Lone Wolf killer – Anders Behring Breivik (2011)

To the last of my knowledge, the above mentioned is still alive and rather well (physically at least) and imprisoned in the north European state of Norway.

To analyse him (from secondary accounts), I picked something published in 2015. The reason for the 4 year gap and not merely a newspaper article in 2011 was to establish a greater emotional distance. One professor I studied under felt 10 years was an adequate amount of time for the dust to settle (the event he referred to was the Persian Gulf War in 1990/91). By inference, this enabled greater objectivity, and perhaps even the leaking of hidden government records to shed more light.

Turrettini, the author of the book – The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer : Anders Behring Breivik and the Threat of Terror in Plain Sight – is a Norwegian based in Switzerland. She was aided significantly by Kathleen M. Puckett, someone with extensive experience in examining ‘lone wolfs’ for the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The acts of violence perpetrated by Breivik, according to the two ladies, are preventable. That is the gist of their argument. It takes though a great deal of observation by the community regarding telltale signs and intelligence by authorities (one suggestion was to communicate with the extremist/far right groups and find out who has been trying to get involved). Apparently, people with such deadly potential show an exceeding amount of interest in weapons.

Lone wolfs are too ‘subtle’. It seems, they like people who end up committing suicide, would have a somewhat similar ideation phase. They experience isolation and extended ‘alienation’.  In this period,  Puckett opines that the lone wolfs replace the vacuum created by failed human interaction with extremist ideology. [p.29] The book also put across that Breivik had to convince himself to kill. That took time…

One proposed root of the killings in July 2011 was (and it continues to exist) the stifling climate. This could arguably be termed as a form of majoritarianism or tyranny of the majority. The ‘Law of Jante’ enforces equality. This starts young from the education system. If you desire to be above the rest then one is deemed a ‘misfit’. [p.28] Eventually, the adolescents in Norway ‘…don’t even ask any questions.’ [p.36]

Breivik was compared to Timothy McVeigh who bombed Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in the 1990s. Both of them were working for ‘…recognition and achievement.’ [p.40] I cannot help wonder, if Breivik had been put in an educational system and society more tolerant of variation and excellence, would he still be in prison today? 

See:

Unni Turrettini. (2015). The Mystery of the Lone Wolf Killer : Anders Behring Breivik and the Threat of Terror in Plain Sight. New York. Pegasus Crime.

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News – Drama tackles integration topics

Drama organisations such as Act 3 have been roped in, as well as Integration and Naturalisation Champions (in numbers exceeding 400 from major ethnic groups) for the effort. The aim? It is to increase integration of incoming citizens since the basic foundation of ‘tolerance’ has largely been achieved. The sub targets are to build ’empathy’ and ‘patience’.

The format is theatre; using English. Audience and actors come together and discuss through the story how new citizens can blend in…

Well, that is one utility of art…

Leong Wai Kit. (22 May 2016). Drama groups to help tackle integration issues. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/drama-groups-to-help/2806516.html. Channelnews Asia.

Specimen Paper and Reflections – Anti Money Laundering

Module 3 (FICS Diploma in Anti Money Laundering) was the toughest paper of them all. I genuinely felt I could fail…

Anyhow, I shall not waste the learning opportunity that has come my way.

Perhaps one day, topics like these can be taught in schools so that the students will know what the world is truly like…

The examination format from a Specimen Paper (2009) gave learners 2 hours of response time and 15 minutes of reading time. Altogether, there were 3 mandatory essay questions.

I shall create a question modelled on one of them (Question 1).

Sharifah heads the Money Laundering and Compliance Department of Assured Financial Services (AFS) as the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO). (Her company is 250 strong). Sharifah’s team observes, among others, the account of Theo, a Taiwanese of Swiss and Taiwanese origins. Theo utilises AFS for his businesses, including investment firms that are based in Indonesia, Thailand and Laos.

Theo is SG’s fifth largest client, with a net worth of 300 million Euros. Momo, a former analyst for the Bank of Japan, is the Relationship Manager (RM). She has serviced the former’s account for 7 years. Resultantly, she became the top earner in the role for 5 out of the last 8 years. Momo invariably visits Theo in the above mentioned countries to discuss management of the latter’s assets on a frequent basis. It appears that the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements regarding Theo were not duly completed and updated by Momo. This was confirmed when Momo was unwilling and unable to provide clear cut replies or details. Moreover, other personnel have voiced concerns about her general ‘less than compliant’ manner. Yet, the RM Vice President would hardly want to disturb the existing and profitable status quo by bothering or antagonising a star employee.

One day, Sharifah receives an anonymous internal tip-off indicating that Momo is actually assisting to launder drug sales income from Theo’s businesses. The whistleblower opines that drugs and firearms form the bulk of Theo’s wealth. After a low key investigation, Sharifah determines there is a need to make a Suspicious Transaction Report to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Singapore Police Force. 

Assuming you are in the shoes of Sharifah:

a. How can you manage the internal reporting to the senior executives (do also consider the role and attitude of the RM Vice-President)

b. Should the CAD or other authority enact investigations on the matter, who should be designated as liaison? Further, who is to decide on the degree of co-operation and the type/quantity of replies to CAD’s queries; as well as other other related matters?

c. Which AFS units have to be brought in to participate? Which units do you have to seek information or guidance from?

(35 marks)

Sapporo Lion Singapore Pte. Ltd.

Just as the United States reintegrated (then) West Germany, the US also rejuvenated Japan. This was to have a bulwark on both sides of the world during the Cold War, arguably.

For that they metamorphosised the Zaibatsu into Keiretsu. Japan as you may have read elsewhere, became the second largest economy in the second half of the twentieth century. I think I see altered shades of this here with the above mentioned group. They consist of the Ginza Lion Beer Hall; Tonkichi restaurants; and the Rive Gauche Patisseries. No banks, no insurance, heavy industries; or trading companies though. So in this sense, they are more in the western mould…

May study in the future the advantages of adopting this group approach… Perhaps bulk buying discounts and lower interest rates on loans?

See:

Thayer Watkins. (no date). The Keiretsu of Japan. http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/keiretsu.htm. San José State University.

[For comparison] RE&S group. (2015). Company. http://www.res.com.sg/en/company.html. Singapore.

Economic Warfare: >500% tax on Chinese cold-rolled steel

The US put a tax of the above mentioned amount (constituted on the basis of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy) against Chinese steel exports. (Apart from the steel lobbies in the US, similar political pressures exist in Europe.) Solving the issue is not straightforward. Steel surpluses from 2013 prop up these state owned firms; which are critical cogs in the Chinese economy with their hiring and tax revenue for instance. Allowing them to degenerate would arguably create an internal backlash in China where legitimacy is based to a significant degree on the material standard of living.

Cold-rolled steel make up US$200,000,000 of imports. (The Oxford Dictionaries record that for the Americans, one billion is one thousand million.) Reportedly, the US authorities are verifying other unfair advantages given to the Chinese steel imports for the other $1.8 billion of steel imports. Presumably, this could lead to more taxes – and retaliation from the Chinese.

On the side, Japanese steel were hit with “…much smaller tariffs.” In the past Japan was the biggest thorn in the steel trade. In 1998, according a British Broadcasting Corporation article in 1999, Japanese exports to the US jumped four fold. The Japanese felt the cause was the strong US Dollar rather than cut-throat Japanese prices. Regardless, the US International Trade Commission recommended taxes of up to 67% on Japanese steel. Since then, China has overtaken Japan as the second largest economy. The competitor focus has therefore changed accordingly.

BBC. (11 Jun 1999). Business: The Economy US-Japan steel war escalates. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/366570.stm.

Lucy Hornby. (18 May 2016). US raises duties on Chinese steel. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/18/financial-times-us-raises-duties-on-chinese-steel.html. The Financial Times on CNBC.

BBCBBC.

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) Debt default

In the words of Abdul Wahid Omar, Economic Planning Minister of Malaysia:

The model that they took was low capitalization and huge borrowings, and I think as they found out, it wasn’t a sustainable model. With that came debt realization, where the board has now embarked on a rationalization plan.

Worse of all, the company was the utter and complete property of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. Some of the bonds 1MDB offered were rather attractive – coupons at 4.4% and 5.99%.

Wonder what is the international politics behind all the investigations by the United States, Singapore, Switzerland and Seychelles…

Pauline Chiou and Nyshka Chandran. (21 Apr 2016). 1MDB was unsustainable due to low capital, high debt: Abdul Wahid Omar. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/03/1mdb-was-unsustainable-due-to-low-capital-high-debt-abdul-wahid-omar.html. CNBC.

London School of Economics. (2 Apr 2014). Senator Dato’ Sri Abdul Wahid Omar, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. http://www.lse.ac.uk/LSEAsiaForum/AsiaForum2014/LSE-Asia-Forum-Speakers/DatoSriAbdulWahidOmar.aspx. LSE Asia Forum 2014 – Malaysia.

See also the earlier post on bonds.

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension Medication – Amlodipine

There are several types of high blood pressure medications. The core aim is to get the blood pressure down.

One type is the Calcium Channel Blocker which prevents calcium into the heart. Then there are several varieties such as Amlodipine. It reduces the heart’s workrate and relaxes or enlarges the blood vessels.

[See American Heart Association. (2016). Types of Blood Pressure Medications. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/Types-of-Blood-Pressure-Medications_UCM_303247_Article.jsp#.VzvUi-Snm-c. United States. 

Cleveland Clinic. (12 Nov 2010). Calcium Channel Blockers. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs_devices_supplements/hic_Calcium_Channel_Blockers. Cleveland, United States.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Choosing blood pressure medications. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure-medication/art-20046280. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. United States.]

The negative impacts from taking the medication includes: coughing or wheezing, dizziness, fatigue for example.  The Cleveland Clinic piece warns alcohol ‘…should be avoided while taking this medication’. This is because it aggravates the medication’s side effects and hampers its efficacy.  But the NPS MedicineWise (when relating to one specific brand – Amlodipine Pfizer – states: ‘Your doctor may advise you to limit your alcohol intake.’). The United States National Library of Medicine on its MedlinePlus website does not even mention alcohol. So one sees a difference in medical opinion here.

[See Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd. (Nov 2014). Amlodipine Pfizer Tablets. http://www.nps.org.au/medicines/heart-blood-and-blood-vessels/blood-pressure-lowering-medicines/amlodipine-blood-pressure-lowering-medicines/amlodipine-pfizer-tablets. NPS MedicineWise. New South Wales, Australia.

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (21 Apr 2016). Amlodipine. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a692044.html#precautions. Bethesda, United States.]

Grapefruit and its juice are a common no-no on both sides of the Atlantic (ocean) as it raises the Amlodipine amounts in the patient’s blood.

[See National Health Service Choices. Does grapefruit affect my medicine? http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2474.aspx?CategoryID=73&SubCategoryID=103. National Health Service. United Kingdom.]

Additionally, the Singapore Health Sciences Authority in its May 2012 update recommended: ‘Limit the dose of simvastatin in patients on amlodipine to 20 mg daily.’ (Simvastatin is a medication to control excessive cholesterol).

[See Health Sciences Authority. (2014). Safety-related Product Label Amendments. http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Health_Products_Regulation/Safety_Information_and_Product_Recalls/Safety-related_Product_Label_Amendments/2012/May.html. Singapore.]

It also seems, and perhaps even widely recognised (locally) that it is exceedingly difficult to get off this and other similar medication in general. The MedlinePlus article records: ‘Continue to take amlodipine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking amlodipine without talking to your doctor.’ Similarly, the American Heart Association writes:’Never stop taking a medication and never change your dose or frequency without first consulting your doctor.’

The final word here as always – The information here is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

Further, do seek a qualified second opinion when required!